Monday, January 1, 2001:As part of FAA-industry Capstone partnership, FAA began the first use of ADS-B technology to track and service traffic near Bethel, Alaska – an area that had no radar coverage. The new system used ground-based transceivers to pick up transmissions from aircraft equipped with ADS-B. The information was then transmitted via phone line and satellite to the Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center, where it was displayed electronically to controllers. (See October 26-28, 2000; April 1, 2002.)
Wednesday, January 17, 2001:FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) signed an understanding covering operational errors and operational deviations (OE/D). Under this agreement, failures to maintain 80 percent separation minima would be recorded as technical violations and maintained in the employee’s training folder. FAA and NATCA would, however, immediately cancel the revocation or suspension of control tower operator licenses and facility ratings in addressing performance deficiencies. After twelve months, any information which could lead to the identification of an employee – whether causal or contributory to a technical violation – would be discarded. No controller would be decertified or forced to complete remedial training for a technical violation, and all controllers would have to attend refresher training annually. The agreement, which would be reviewed at six-month intervals, also called for quarterly meetings at the national level to address quality assurance. In addition, FAA and NATCA agreed to work together, no later than April 30, to develop and implement a classification system of OE/Ds based upon risk assessment.
Saturday, January 20, 2001:George W. Bush became the forty-third President of the United States.
Thursday, January 25, 2001:Former Member of Congress Norman Y. Mineta (D-CA) took the oath of office as the nation’s fourteenth Secretary of Transportation. The lone Democrat in George W. Bush’s cabinet, Mineta, age sixty-nine, had been Secretary of Commerce in the outgoing Clinton Administration, and was the first Asian Pacific American to hold this Cabinet-rank post. (See July 7, 2006.)
January 2001:FAA Administrator Jane Garvey established the terminal business service
Friday, February 9, 2001:Effective this date, FAA amended the procedures for assessment and adjudication of civil penalties in space transportation
Monday, March 19, 2001:FAA announced that U.S. airlines had complied with the deadline to retrofit commercial airplanes with both fire detection and suppression systems. Most wide-body passenger airplanes already had fire detection and suppression systems in inaccessible cargo compartments. FAA’s February 1998, final rule required that the remainder of the passenger fleet be retrofitted within three years. In addition, approximately 300 all-cargo airplanes were required to have detection systems and means to shut off airflow to the cargo compartment. (See February 12, 1998.)
Sunday, April 1, 2001:Thirty-one airports were the first to be permitted to begin collecting Passenger Facility Charges (PFC) at a $4.50 level. Since that date, an additional 259 airports have collected at a $4.50 PFC level.
Tuesday, April 10, 2001:FAA announced its agreement with recommendations in the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) Independent Review Board (IRB) report issued earlier in the month. Chartered by the FAA, the IRB said its technical review showed that WAAS would actually work better than the FAA had previously estimated and, when fielded, would likely provide significant additional aviation safety. The board, which met from August to December of 2000, recommended that FAA remain fully committed to the evolution of WAAS, and concluded that national WAAS capability could be achieved with the FAA’s renewed leadership, action, and commitment. It further stated that WAAS had enormous benefits for all global positioning system (GPS) users. (See August 24, 2000; July 11, 2003.)
Thursday, April 12, 2001:FAA issued a rule, effective May 12, 2004, requiring air carrier operators to carry automated external defibrillators on large, passenger-carrying aircraft and augment currently required emergency medical kits. The new rule affected those air carrier operations for which at least one flight attendant was required and provided the option of treating serious medical events during flight time. (See May 24, 2000.)
Wednesday, April 25, 2001:FAA dedicated the first version of its Weather Systems Processor (WSP) at a ceremony held at Albuquerque International Sunport, a facility that had been closely tied to development of the system. The WSP was designed to provide information to controllers and pilots about potentially hazardous microburst and wind shear weather events. The system improved the management of air traffic in air space near the airport by forecasting gust front-induced wind shifts, detecting precipitation, and tracking storms. The new processor was deployed at airports that did not qualify for the more sophisticated Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) or as interim measures at airports where TDWR was scheduled for deployment later. WSP went on line at four other sites at the same time as the Albuquerque dedication: Austin, Texas; Norfolk, Virginia; the FAA Academy (training); and the Technical Center (testing and support). (See September 24, 1998.)
Friday, April 27, 2001:FAA prohibited U.S. operators of Boeing 737 aircraft from running center wing tank fuel pumps unless the quantity of fuel exceeded a specified minimum level. The Airworthiness Directive was one of many FAA initiatives to enhance fuel tank safety. (See February 22, 2000; May 7, 2001.)
Thursday, May 3, 2001:FAA began providing a new service that used wireless devices to inform the public of aviation delays. Travelers with access to pagers, cell phones, or personal digital assistants (PDA), could subscribe and obtain real-time airport status information via e-mail.
Monday, May 7, 2001:FAA issued a rule that required airplane manufacturers and operators to change how airplane fuel tanks were designed, maintained and operated. The rule included a special federal aviation regulation (SFAR) to minimize the potential for failures that could cause ignition sources in fuel tanks on new and existing airplanes. It also included a regulation that, for the first time, mandated airplane design changes to minimize the flammability of fuel tanks on new airplanes. Manufacturers had 18 months from June 6, the effective date of the rule, to conduct the safety reviews and develop required maintenance and inspection programs. Operators had 36 months from June 6 to incorporate a FAA-approved maintenance and inspection program into their operating procedures. (See April 27, 2001; June 6, 2001.)
Wednesday, May 23, 2001:FAA ordered operators of DC-9/MD-88 series and MD-90-30 series aircraft to inspect the wiring of small static port heaters for chafing, loose connections, and evidence of arcing, and to make necessary repairs. These heaters keep ice from forming on devices that measure air pressure. Operators had to determine if the surrounding insulation were covered with metalized Mylar (polyethyleneteraphthalate). If so, the Mylar had to be removed and/or replaced with Tedlar-covered insulation, or other appropriate action had to be taken. The airworthiness directive came in response to an incident that occurred on September 17, 1999, in which a Delta Air Lines MD-88 experienced a fire in the forward cargo compartment shortly after takeoff from Northern Kentucky International Airport in Covington, Kentucky.
Thursday, May 24, 2001:FAA provided Congress a report on ways to expedite environmental reviews of runway projects, including establishing special teams of experts, reducing paperwork, and improving coordination between federal and local officials. The agency proposed strengthening environmental impact statement (EIS) teams by adding more FAA members, asking airport proprietors to contribute members, and putting more consultants on the teams. FAA also suggested increasing FAA environmental specialist and environmental attorney resources. FAA also planned to develop a reimbursable agreement for airports interested in paying for extra staff for expedited EIS reviews.
Thursday, May 24, 2001:FAA announced it had selected a group headed by Lockheed Martin to undertake the Advanced Technologies and Oceanic Procedures (ATOP) project. Once installed, the new ATOP technology would give controllers the ability to reduce separation between aircraft on oceanic routes, and would give pilots greater flexibility to choose their own routes. (See June 30, 2004.)
Tuesday, May 29, 2001:FAA announced it would begin using an alert warning system at the country’s 34 busiest airports to help prevent runway accidents. Already in use at San Francisco and Detroit, the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) provided air traffic controllers with visual and aural alerts of potential runway accidents caused by runway incursions. AMASS was an enhancement to the ASDE-3 (airport surface detection equipment ) radar that processed surveillance data from the ASDE-3 and the terminal automation system. It then determined conflicts based on the position, velocity, and acceleration of airborne arrival aircraft with ground-based aircraft and vehicles. (See July 15, 2000; August 14, 2001.)
Wednesday, June 6, 2001:FAA required design approval holders of certain turbine-powered transport category airplanes, and of any subsequent modifications to those airplanes, to substantiate that the design of the fuel tank system precluded the existence of ignition sources within the airplane fuel tanks. The new rule also required the development and implementation of maintenance and inspection instructions to assure fuel tank safety. For new type designs, the manufacturer had to identify safety-critical maintenance actions and incorporate a means either to minimize development of flammable vapors in fuel tanks or to prevent catastrophic damage if ignition did occur. These actions were based on accident investigations and adverse service experience, both of which had shown that unforeseen failure modes and lack of specific maintenance procedures on certain airplane fuel tank systems might result in degradation of design safety features intended to preclude ignition of vapors within the fuel tank. (See May 7, 2001; November 23, 2002.)
Thursday, June 7, 2001:FAA unveiled a plan that addressed the growing gap between demand and capacity in the air transportation system. The plan integrated and aligned agency activities with those of the aviation industry and users of the system. The Operational Evolution Plan (OEP) focused on maintaining safety, increasing capacity, and managing delays. The plan identified specific tasks to be accomplished in the near-term (2001 and 2002), mid-term (2002 to 2004), and long-term (2005 to 2010). FAA and industry considered the OEP an evolving document that would be modified, particularly to incorporate new technologies as they emerged. (See June 2007.)
Monday, June 11, 2001:FAA awarded a $125 million dollar contract to Lockheed Martin Corp., to develop and field the En Route Communications Gateway (ECG). This new gateway for processing radar data would reduce system outages and thereby both increase safety margins and reduce maintenance requirements. ECG would replace the Peripheral Adapter Module Replacement Item (PAMRI) program. The system would be installed at twenty-one air route traffic control centers, the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, and the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center was the first site scheduled for installation of the new system. FAA expected the system to become operational in the summer of 2003. The last site would be fielded in mid-2005. (See December 7, 2005.)
Monday, June 25, 2001:FAA issued a final rule to protect from disclosure voluntarily provided information that aids the agency in improving safety and security. The rule particularly encouraged data sharing programs, such as Flight Operational Quality Assurance, which used state-of-the-art flight data recorder technology to collect and analyze data on routine flights. FAA had been using data collected in this fashion to identify industry-wide safety trends and to target more effectively resources and correct potential safety problems. The rule took effect on July 25. (See June 30, 2000; October 30, 2001.)
Saturday, June 30, 2001:Mayor Richard Daley announced his proposal for reducing delays and congestion at O’Hare International Airport. Highlights of the proposal included the addition of one new runway and the relocation of three of the current seven runways. According to the city’s estimates, making these changes would reduce delays related to poor weather by 95 percent and overall delays by 79 percent.
Wednesday, July 11, 2001:In a report to Congress, FAA’s new Management Advisory Council (MAC) concluded that the agency’s rulemaking process was inefficient, lacked credibility, and unless fixed, would erode the safety, security, and efficiency of the aviation system. The MAC, however, was only one of a number of groups that had recently faulted FAA’s rulemaking process. GAO, the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, and organized labor echoed the MAC’s findings. The MAC found that FAA took an average of five years to complete rules, and, at its current pace, would not be able to finish all of the rules currently being developed for 15 years. It also criticized FAA’s cost/benefit analyses, inadequate staffing and management accountability within FAA, and inefficiencies in the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee process.
Tuesday, July 17, 2001:FAA released final rules on airport and aircraft security, as recommended by the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security following the 1996 crash of TWA 800. (See July 27, 2000; September 11, 2001.)
Tuesday, July 31, 2001:FAA awarded a contract to ITT Industries Aerospace/Communications Division, of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, to provide the agency with multi-mode VHF digital air-to-ground radios. The contract was for an initial $20.5 million and would be worth as much as $580 million if all options were exercised. ITT Industries partnered with Park Air Systems, Federal Data Corp., and Operational Technologies Services, Inc., to provide the equipment. This first building block of the Next Generation Air/Ground Communications (NEXCOM) system would, in phases, replace air traffic controllers’ aging analog radios with digital radios. When completed, the entirely digital system would enhance the FAA’s ability to meet expanding air traffic control communication demands. (See February 22, 2002.)
Tuesday, August 14, 2001:Representative John Mica (R-FL), chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, criticized FAA for delaying deployment of the airport movement area safety system (AMASS) . Mica said the program was six years behind schedule. (See May 29, 2001.)
Thursday, August 16, 2001:FAA unveiled a new initiative designed to enhance the continued safety of aircraft wiring systems from their design and installation through their retirement. FAA based its Enhanced Airworthiness Program for Airplane Systems (EAPAS) on results from an intensive data-gathering effort on aircraft wiring systems done in cooperation with industry. EAPAS combined a variety of near- and longer-term actions into a plan to increase awareness of wiring system degradation, implement improved procedures for wiring maintenance and design, and spread that information throughout the aviation community. FAA’s overall aging transport non-structural systems program, an effort begun in October 1998, was an expansion of the agency’s aging aircraft program. (See October 1, 1998; May 22, 1999; October 6, 2005.)
Monday, August 20, 2001:A final FAA rule, effective this date, lowered the overflight fees the agency charged carriers for air traffic and related services incurred by certain aircraft that transit U.S.-controlled airspace but neither take off from, nor land in, the United States. The new rule reduced the fees that had been established by an interim final rule that had gone into effect on August 1, 2000, and allowed FAA to continue to charge fees as required by law. FAA rulemaking efforts to impose statutorily required fees had been repeatedly challenged in court. The most recent challenge had stemmed from an opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, issued on July 13, 2001, which stated: “Because FAA has failed to articulate the basis for its conclusions that ‘the unit costs of providing [air traffic control] services to overflights within each environment [are] identical to the unit costs of providing [air traffic control] services to all air traffic within each environment,’ we vacate the 2000 Rule and remand to the FAA for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.” (See August 1, 2000; June 21, 2002.)
Tuesday, September 11, 2001:Nineteen radical Islamic extremists with the group al Qaeda penetrated security at three major airports, seized four U.S. domestic airliners, and turned them into missiles that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City, and damaged the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, killing thousands. Passengers on one of the planes fought the hijackers causing the plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field, killing all on board. For the first time in history, FAA put a ground stop on all U.S. air traffic. Related details follow: (Eastern Standard Time)
- 7:59 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 with 92 people on board, takes off from Boston Logan airport for Los Angeles.
- 8:14 a.m.: United Air Lines Flight 175, a Boeing 767 with 65 people on board, takes off from Boston Logan airport for Los Angeles.
- 8:20 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 with 64 people on board, takes off from Washington Dulles airport for Los Angeles.
- 8:38 a.m.: FAA notifies the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) Northeast Air Defense Sector about the suspected hijacking of American Flight 11.
- 8:42 a.m.: United Air Lines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 with 44 people on board, takes off from Newark airport for San Francisco.
- 8:46 a.m.: American Flight 11 crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
- 9:03 a.m. (approx.): United Flight 175 crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center.
- 9:04 a.m.: FAA’s Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center stops all departures from airports in its jurisdiction (New England and eastern New York State).
- 9:06 a.m.: FAA bans takeoffs of all flights bound to or through the airspace of New York Center from airports in that air route traffic control center and the three adjacent air route traffic control centers – Boston, Cleveland and Washington. This is referred to as a first tier ground stop and covers the Northeast from North Carolina north and as far west as eastern Michigan.
- 9:08 a.m.: FAA bans all takeoffs nationwide for flights going to or through New York Center airspace.
- 9:15 a.m.: FAA (New York Center) notifies NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector that United Airlines 175 was the second aircraft that crashed into the World Trade Center.
- 9:25 a.m.: FAA bans takeoffs of all civilian aircraft regardless of destination – a national ground stop.
- 9:37 a.m.: American Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon.
- 9:45 a.m.: In the first unplanned shutdown of U. S. airspace, FAA orders all aircraft to land at the nearest airport as soon as practical. At this time, there were more than 4,500 aircraft in the air on instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plans.
- 10:03 a.m.: United Flight 93 crashes in Stony Creek Township, Pennsylvania.
- 10:39 a.m.: Reaffirming the earlier order, FAA issues a notice to airmen (NOTAM) that halts takeoffs and landings at all airports.
- 12:15 p.m.: The airspace over the 48 contiguous states is clear of all commercial and private flights.
- 2:30 p.m.: FAA announces there will be no U.S. air traffic until noon Eastern Standard Time Wednesday at the earliest. (See July 17, 2001; September 12, 2001.)
aiR-Note:HistoryCommons.org has an extensive analysis of the history leading up to and following the 9/11 events. It includes the involvement of many FAA officials, especially at New York Center, FAA Headquarters, and at the Command Center in Herndon, VA.
Wednesday, September 12, 2001:Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced FAA would allow a limited reopening of the nation’s commercial airspace system to allow flights diverted the day before to continue to their original destinations. The Secretary announced FAA was temporarily extending the ground stop order imposed the previous day, while it initiated additional security measures. Mineta said FAA would permit flights only in special limited circumstances. Flights diverted as a result of yesterday’s ground stop would be allowed to continue to their original destination under vastly tightened security guidelines. Only passengers on the original flights would be allowed to re-board, and only after airports and airlines had implemented strict screening measures. Mineta said a variety of stepped-up security measures would be instituted at the airports once they re-opened. Those measures included:
- A thorough search and security check of all airplanes and airports before passengers were allowed to enter and board aircraft.
- Discontinuance of curbside check-in at the airport.
- Discontinuance of off-airport check-in.
- Only ticketed passengers would be allowed to proceed past airport screeners to catch their flights.
- Vehicles near airport terminals would be monitored more closely. (See September 11, 2001; September 14, 2001.)
Friday, September 14, 2001:Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta approved restoration of the next phase of national air service, allowing certain general aviation flights back into the air effective at 4:00 p.m. General aviation was allowed to resume flights operating under Instrument Flight Rules, or IFR. Temporarily, however, general aviation flights would not be allowed to fly within 25 nautical miles of New York City and Washington, DC. Those restrictions would be kept in place until further notice as officials continued to assess the recovery situation in those cities over the near term. September 19, FAA lifted most restrictions of general aviation (Part 91) visual flight rules operations, or VFR, flights. VFR flights were now permitted for U.S. registered aircraft outside of enhanced Class B airspace, or airspace within a 30-mile radius of 30 major U.S. airports. FAA kept restrictions on the following flying activities (except in Hawaii):
- civil aircraft VFR flight training operations; VFR operations for banner towing; news reporting; traffic watch; airship/blimps; and Part 91 sightseeing. AA also restricted flying of any kind within 3000 feet altitude and three nautical miles of major sporting events or large open-air gatherings of people, such as football and baseball stadiums, race tracks, and concerts. (See September 12, 2001; September 23, 2001.)